The Beat Goes On


In this edition…

Alum Spotlight:
“Dan Bel”
Hear from alum, Dan
Belnavis about his new
journey. (pg 2)

Thoughts On How 52 Came To Be
The inside scoop on the process to secure the perfect season
By Jacques Stewart, Weathervane Artistic Director

A nonprofit theater’s summer season is planned Season 52 Line
The Beat Goes On using a craft all its own. It includes mundane Up Announced
Editors: logistical considerations and sky high creative Artistic Director, Jacques
Colin Keating and Laura Manos-Hey ambitions. It involves lots of lack of sleep; it sees Stewart shares
Contributors: fails and triumphs; it answers big challenges like information on the
Scott Hunt and Jacques Stewart, building our audience and little ones like how to upcoming season (pg 1)
Photo Credit: Weathervane borrow that rocking chair from the Inn?
Weathervane is not alone. This is a process that
WVAA Board happens all over the country in theaters from the
Officers: San Francisco suburbs to downtown New York City.
Rick Farrar, President
Rien Schlecht, Vice President With a nearly half-million-dollar budget the soon-
Jeff Zadroga, Treasurer to-be 52-year-old Weathervane is on a par with
Colin Keating, Secretary many top-notch theaters we all know. Places like
Directors: the Atlantic, the Vineyard, and Classic Stage are Make Our
Timothy Breese Miller putting their off- Broadway seasons together with Garden Grow
Catherine Carter similar-sized budgets (at New York prices) and Details on the
Laura Manos-Hey
using the same methods, strategies, and beatification of the
Kellee Marsh
Michael Sheehan motivations that we use. (continued on pg 3) theater. (pg 5)
Brandi Varnell

Alumni Spotlight:
Dan Belnavis
Dan joins the First National Tour of Hamilton and
spills about his love for the Weathervane Theatre
The Beat Goes On (TBGO): What makes the Weathervane Theatre
Community special?
Dan Bel: I think the most special thing about being part of the
Weathervane community is meeting other alums and immediately
being able to relate to him or her. There's nothing like the
experience of working at Weathervane -- it's a manic, beautiful,
indescribable blur that really pushes you to your limits in the best way. I think of it as theatre boot
camp. So when you meet someone else who has gone through it, it just instantly bonds you. I
learned so much about all I could accomplish when I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone
and trusted my abilities. I also made some incredible friends that summer that I'm still really close
with and try to keep in touch with as best as I can.

The Beat Goes On: What’s the most memorable show you’ve done at the Weathervane?
Dan Bel: The most memorable show I've done at WV has to be Next To Normal. I think the whole
cast can attest to what a special show it was and anyone who got to see it can speak to that too, I'm
sure. There was a palpable chemistry and alchemy between most of the cast and our directors,
Barrett Hall and Sarah Levine Hall. They made us feel really comfortable, which is ideal for such an
emotionally heavy show and they also gave us room to play and really imbue the characters with our
own individual gifts.

The Beat Goes On: What are you up to now?
Dan Bel: I'm currently in rehearsals for the first national tour of
Hamilton. I'm in the ensemble and I understudy both George
Washington and King George, which is really exciting. It's really a
dream come true in so many ways. Not only to be employed in a
successful show for the next year or more but to be part of a
show that is such a monumental part of the American zeitgeist
and has so many themes that seem more timely than ever.

“I learned so much about all I
could accomplish when I really pushed myself
out of my comfort zone and trusted my abilities.”


Thoughts On How 52 Came To Be (cont.)
Places like the Atlantic, the Vineyard, and Classic Stage are putting their off- Broadway seasons together
with similar-sized budgets (at New York prices) and using the same methods, strategies, and motivations
that we use.

To look at how this theater creates a season over the months from September to June is not only to see
how a small nonprofit institution is run — it also highlights the making of art.

I became Artistic Director in 1991 at 36 years old. As Artistic Director, I have always tried to cultivate
collaborators -- creative spirits and colleagues who can work in the magical workshop that is the
Weathervane with its compressed schedule and thin finances.

When choosing shows several considerations are at
work. Principally among them are: Casting and Costs.

Choosing shows that hook artists on the Weathervane is
the idea. Each individual title may not attract
everybody in the Company, but the look, feel, gestalt
of the group of seven titles has to hook the theater

In planning a season, a theater also has ticket sales to
consider, and consider, and consider. In other words:
What will hook the audience?

I want a person to look at our brochure or poster and
say: “that one’s for me.” (I keep my fingers crossed
that it is more than one, of course!)

But first: the season identity! Comedies! Dance Shows!
American Classics! Brand New! Tried and True! Musicals
with a Message! Social Issues! Fantasy! Escape! Some
Artistic Directors regard season planning as a museum
curator does, where each choice must stick closely to a
chosen theme or common thread. In practice, each
season’s identity is a rather loosely applied theme that
can accommodate both perfect fits and outliers. What I
say when we sit down to work out the titles is: Let’s get
great titles that fit together and produce them well…
and the theme can be a defining influence.

The Weathervane is unique (a word you hear used too often these days): we are a progressive theater; our
stock in trade is eclectic repertory and non-traditional casting.

But we take that to a new level. We do not view casting “types” as necessary. We are a rep company first
and foremost; and need a “tribe of artists” that can do it all, so we seek performers that have a full tool
belt of talent. Gender, age range, race, voice type, physical size are all serious considerations but they are
not absolute needs, not always.

The Weathervane’s budget and salary numbers reflect the threadbare financing we maintain. But many in
the business hear the numbers and they don’t blink. Somehow, actors, directors, designers who work in the


big time are also willing to lend their talents to the Weathervane for less than their normal fees. That’s
because we make up in personal attention and volume of experience what we can’t offer in compensation.
They often say they go where the good work is. That’s here.

As to where our season stands now, it looks like all the Main Stage titles are set, as is the performance

“We are a rep company first and foremost; and
need a “tribe of artists” that can do it all...”

And so the group of seven distinct titles:

HAIRSPRAY We choose a crowd pleaser to open the season. It is a known title,
something with lots of pre-buzz.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS An edgy contemporary two hander that excites the theatre crowd
and introduces new material to the North Country…

THE DINING ROOM …and a Pulitzer finalist from A.R. Gurney. These two shows are
rehearsed at the same time, so their cast size has to be small. Finding the right small
musical (we have relied on original revues over the years) and a small play is a separate
task all unto itself.

GYPSY The heart of the season always works with a big Classic title…

SEUSSICAL …followed by a show that may not be as well known but appeals to families.

INHERIT THE WIND The sixth show is a beloved classic play and in years past has been a
slot for the farce.

WEST SIDE STORY The final show is usually the AD’s choice - a title that artists and
audiences alike can look forward to all summer long.

Even after all has been set, there is no shortage of things to be nervous about. Will the season work? Will
people buy tickets? Will our long-time subscribers like the shows? There’s always something to keep you
awake at night.

But history is a calm advisor: the Weathervane has worked 51 years. And 52 is announced and on its way!


Encore! Make Our Garden Grow!
WVAA works to enhance the community of our beloved theater with a landscape
project outside the new South Lobby By Laura Manos-Hey

The Weathervane Theatre community is a diverse mix of people, from theater artists to audience members. Together
those people make it the special community it is. Every summer a company of actors, technicians, designers, and
interns gather to work their magic on and offstage and become a forever part of the alumni family. The theater
itself, from the old barn to the new one, carries more than 50 years of memories of art and friendship. Now the
Weathervane Theatre Alumni Association’s ENCORE landscape
project seeks to make these relationships and experiences a
permanent part of the theater property. You can purchase bricks,
trees, benches, and lampposts for outside the South Lobby. You
can buy them individually or with a group of friends, in your own
name or in someone’s honor. You can be a permanent part of the
Weathervane Theatre and celebrate your history.

“The ENCORE project will bring together one of the most
important and wonderful elements of the magic of the
Weathervane Theatre, our community.  It will be the place for
audiences to gather before the show or during intermission to
chat in the cooling summer breezes on a bench, walk the paths
of dedicated bricks to search for names of alumni or friends
from the distant and recent past, or as beacons of lights from the lamppost that will guide the way to the
front door.  As the name suggest, it is the place were we will all gather again and again to join in the
excitement for the show we are about to see or share with one another the thoughts and reflections of the
show we have just seen. Actors and company members will make their way from backstage to join audience
member, friends and family to share a hug, a laugh or simply a moment together.  ENCORE will provide a
cherished place for generations of future memories.”-Scott Hunt

Alums all invited to be a part of “growing the theater” in a new way. Let us celebrate the community and family we
love so much by contributing to the design of the property. It will be a way to leave your mark for the companies and
audiences of the future, to let them know you were here and that you were a part of the magic that is the
Weathervane Theatre.

Mark the date for a social gathering at American Whiskey (247 West 30th Street between 7th and 8th
Avenues, Manhattan) on Thursday April 20th at 6:00pm. The event will take place in the midst of the
Weathervane’s week of auditions for the upcoming season in New York.

Mark the date on your calendar for our 2017 Alumni Show. The show will be held Sunday August 13th at 2:00
with a reception to follow. After directing last summer’s New Hampshire Theater Award acclaimed production of
The King and I, Diane DiCroce (’92, ’97, ’16, ‘17) will return to direct the production. DiCroce is also slated to
direct the Season 52 production of Inherit the Wind.

More information is forthcoming regarding the show’s theme, rehearsal details and information about the events
of the weekend. To request more information or to express interest in performing, alums should email